Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.
Today (December 14,2020): Top 10 best hotels in the world.
The question I am asked most often is “what is your favorite hotel in the world?”. It’s somewhat difficult to answer that question since I prefer to rank hotels in different categories according to the experience they offer, whether it be a city break, a romantic getaway, a wilderness experience or a beach holiday. Nevertheless, there are a few luxury hotels that have left such an overwhelming impression on me that I rank them amongst my most memorable travel experiences ever. So, here you go: this is my top 10 list of the world’s most beautiful and amazing luxury hotels (and I highly recommend to put them on your bucket list as well).
There is more information (with reviews and YouTube clips) below the slideshow. What is your favorite hotel in the world? Leave a comment, or take my poll below.
10. &BEYOND MNEMBA ISLAND, ZANZIBAR, TANZANIA
If you have ever harbored the secret wish of finding yourself the sole inhabitant of a beautiful tropical island, but without the effort of having to lift a finger to fend for yourself, &Beyond Mnemba Island is just the place for you. This romantic, private hideaway is an award-winning barefoot beach paradise just off the northeast coast of Zanzibar, accommodating a maximum of 20 guests at a time. Guest relax and unwind in the exclusivity of their own stretch of beachfront, where ten beachside bandas peep out onto unblemished sands from the dappled shade of the casuarina pine forest and overlook the Mnemba atoll (a scuba diver’s delight). From snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking to massages in the beach, to doing nothing at all, &Beyond Mnemba Island has something for everyone.
9. BELMOND HOTEL CARUSO, AMALFI COAST, ITALY
Almost suspended between sea and sky, Belmond Hotel Caruso occupies a former medieval palace. Located at the highest, quietest point of Ravello, the luxury hotel overlooks the rocks and cliffs of Italy’s Amalfi Coast and the Mediterranean (or, more correctly, Tyrrhenian) Sea. With frescoed salons, arched stone vaults and just 50 highly individual rooms and suites occupying every shape and corner of the ancient palace’s architecture, it is an intimate retreat with an intriguing sense of history. But above all, with its rose arbor leading to one of the world’s most spectacular infinity pools, with sunlit or candlelit dining in the Belvedere Restaurant, and with a rich sense of its past as a retreat for presidents, writers and film stars, the hotel is almost impossibly romantic.
8. SIX SENSES ZIGHY BAY, OMAN
Six Senses Zighy Bay is an ultra-luxurious “hidden gem”, located on Oman’s northern Musandam Peninsula, only a scenic two-hour car journey from Dubai. The setting of this beautiful indigenous village-style resort with its private marina is spectacular, with dramatic mountains on one side, and a 1.6 km (1 mile) sandy beach on the other. The resort gives the feeling of exotic remoteness, yet offers every comfort, easy accessibility and barefoot luxury beyond imagination. The accommodations are inspired by traditional Omani houses and feature high indigenous-style ceilings, colorfully cushioned living area and cloudlike beds. All villas have a private pool, where guests can refresh within the privacy of high cobblestone walls. The property also features a terrific spa and several word-class restaurants.
7. ROYAL MALEWANE, SOUTH AFRICA
Royal Malewane is a luxury safari lodge with several one- to six-bedroom villas, located in Thornybush private game reserve on the western border of the Kruger National Park. The lodge, which has Bill Gates, Bono and Elton John among its repeat guests, exudes the romance and beauty of a bygone age while offering every modern comfort and convenience. Here, the classic safari experience is unsurpassed with unrivaled Big Five game viewing and the country’s most qualified guiding team, who will provide detailed insights into the complex and fascinating ecosystems of the South African bushveld. Guests can also indulge in sensual treatments at the tranquil waters of Royal Malewane’s Bush Spa and enjoy nightly feasts under the African stars.
6. AMAN SVETI STEFAN, MONTENEGRO
Perhaps the most iconic image associated with Montenegro, the fortified island of Sveti Stefan dates back to the 15th century when Adriatic pirates held sway over this crystal-clear coastline. Attached to the mainland by a narrow isthmus, the restored village lies across the bay from Villa Miločer, a former royal retreat, and provides unparalleled access to the Bay of Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along with 80 acres of grounds, two kilometers (1,3 miles) of beaches and a standalone Aman Spa, these two historic sites comprise Aman Sveti Stefan. While the island’s historic exterior remains largely unchanged, the resort’s interiors have been restored and updated to meet contemporary expectations. Expect to find 58 unique luxury lodgings, all coming with gorgeous bathrooms and with a myriad of views ranging from sea and rooftops to quaint courtyards and piazzas.
5. SONEVA FUSHI, MALDIVES
Soneva Fushi, the first ‘Robinson Crusoe’ style hideaway in the Maldives, is set on the privately owned tropical island of Kunfunadhoo in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The island – which is 1,400 m (4,600 ft) long and 400 m (1300 ft) wide – ranks among the largest islands in the Maldives. Apart from the crystal clear waters, white beaches and tropical climate, the island’s unusually rich vegetation offers a unique natural experience. Massive, multi-bedroom, fairytale-like luxury villas and private residences are hidden among dense tropical foliage. In keeping with the castaway theme, many are built to resemble tree houses. All open to their own private stretch of sugar white sands, and most boast their own private seawater swimming pools. Intuitive service is provided by Mr/Ms Friday butlers who know what you want before you want it.
Contact me to get complimentary Soneva ambassador benefits at Soneva Fushi (e.g. resort credit and two Soneva experiences).
4. TIME + TIDE MIAVANA, MADAGASCAR
Miavana is an incredibly luxurious resort located on remote Nosy Ankao island, which is part of a five-island archipelago off the north-east of Madagascar. Surrounded by vibrant coral reefs and the Indian Ocean’s spectacular maritime wonders, Miavana consist of only 14 one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas strung along the island’s western pure white beaches. Miavana’s palatial villas have been perfectly designed by Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, the star architects who also designed North Island Seychelles (cf below), and allows guests to step directly onto the powder-soft sand from their private decks to enjoy spectacular panoramic Indian Ocean sunsets extending to the far contours of mainland Madagascar. Boat and helicopter transfers are provided to the mainland, where the resort’s guides can lead you to a world of lemurs and chameleons, and a mosaic of unexplored coves.
3. SONEVA KIRI, THAILAND
Remote yet accessible by a one hour flight from Bangkok on the resort’s private plane, Soneva Kiri sits on Thailand’s 4th largest but least populated island, Koh Kood. One of the most exclusive resorts in the world, Soneva Kiri offers an unrivaled combination of luxury, environmentally friendly design and unforgettable, authentic Thai experiences. The 36 resort villas (including 11 private residences) are amongst the largest in the world. Located on the idyllic beach or sunny slopes in the rainforest, all have stunning infinity pools, impossibly chic furnishings, personal electric buggies, and impeccable service courtesy of private butlers. Highlights include the open air cinema Paradiso, Benz’ mangrove restaurant, the chocolate & ice cream parlor, the children’s den and the spectacular Treetop dining pod.
Contact me to get complimentary Soneva ambassador benefits at Soneva Kiri (e.g. resort credit and two Soneva experiences).
- Hotel website: Soneva Kiri
- Top 10 accolades: Soneva Kiri features in my top 10 lists of the most insanely beautiful hotels in Thailand, the world’s most amazing beach resorts, the world’s most outrageous hotel experiences, the best private plunge pools in the world, the world’s most beautiful hotel beaches, the world’s best luxury hotels, the world’s best family hotels, the world’s most remote hotels, the most astonishing beach retreats in Asia, and luxury hotels with private airports.
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. villa upgrade, breakfast, early check-in , late check-out, welcome Champagne with Thai tapas on arrival, and a 30 minute spa treatment for two).
- Review: read my review of Soneva Kiri here.
2. NORTH ISLAND, SEYCHELLES
North Island has a reputation as world’s most exclusive hideaway. The insanely beautiful island has only 11 opulent hand-crafted villas overlooking the pristine, powder-white sands and turquoise waters of the Ile Du Nord eco-reserve. Raised off the ground to catch the cooling Indian Ocean breezes, all villas open up onto private gardens and the beach. Plunge pools and outdoor showers provide the finishing touches to your private sanctuary. The island’s lounge and dining areas, scenically located health spa and gym, library and dive center, and a rim-flow swimming pool are all built into a granitic outcrop. Keep an eye out for Brutus, the island’s 160-year-old tortoise. The resort was the decor for honeymoon of Prince William and Kate, Dutchess of Cambridge, in 2011.
1. SONEVA JANI, MALDIVES
Inspired by a word that means wisdom in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani is located on Medhufaru island, which is part of an uninhabited five-island cluster in the Noonu Atoll. The Maldives’ most exclusive hotel, and my absolutely favorite hotel in the world, is fringed by pristine beaches, blanketed with lush tropical greenery, and surrounded by a 5.6 km (3,4 mi) lagoon of crystal clear waters with uninterrupted 360° views of the Indian Ocean. Currently, Soneva Jani features 24 water villas and one beach villa, although additional beach villas are planned at a later stage. Each one of the 24 water villas is superbly designed and has a private pool and opens to its own stretch of lagoon, with some villas featuring slides going directly from the top deck into the lagoon below. The highlight of the villas is the retractable roof in the master bedroom, which slides back at the touch of a button so that guests can lie in bed and stargaze.
Contact me to receive complimentary Soneva ambassador benefits at Soneva Jani (e.g. resort credit and two Soneva experiences).
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